The summer after my freshman year at Spelman, I was my brother's social media marketing intern. Working with my brother as my boss was OK, but having my mother as the receptionist, my sister as a bookkeeper and my sister-in-law as the VP was just #teamtoomuch. There were so many personalities in the workplace that I was all too familiar with and whatever drama happened in the house was brought to the workplace. Needless to say, I was all the f*ck set after that.
While I may not have had the run-of-the-mill-working-with-family experience, I had the opportunity to speak to some dope siblings who work together creatively and have healthy relationships. We chatted about the importance of communication, the fine line between friends and siblings, being in business together and do's and don'ts of being siblings when working together.
Known for their charisma, confidence and all around cool vibes, Ceraadi is the perfect example of the sister-best friend combo package we all envy. Sisters Saiyr and Emaza collaboratively create dope concepts for YouTube videos, dance challenges and music - how can they do it all and not be bored, tired, or ready to swing on each other? For these two, it's all about positive vibes and open-mindedness. "We're both head strong and opinionated. We believe in our ideas and that can cause minor bumps," Saiyr admits, "but we always find a middle ground - fusing our great ideas together."
"I believe we have become more open-minded to each other's ideas," Emaza adds. "Let's say we don't agree, our mom will come through to help us figure it out." The dynamic duo has taken to the 'gram to show off their unbreakable bond, from exuding collective confidence in their Savage x Fenty to car covers of Ari Lennox's "BMO". Their in-sync musical abilities are just one way that they show their love and admiration for one another, and they're not shy about bouncing creative ideas off of one another to create an even stronger sisterhood - even if it means being painfully honest. "Always be honest if something doesn't sound good regardless if the other will feel a way. Be open to other ideas," says Saiyr about their creative process and rules of the studio.
As these two embark on a journey to "secure the bag", pun totally intended, they recognize each other's strengths and abilities to pick up where the other may need support. "Saiyr observes and analyzes everything in-depth. Saiyr's thoughts and style come from a genuine place, so you never know what crazy and fun element she'll bring to any project we're working on," Emaza observes about Saiyr, while Saiyr boasts about Emaza's ability to conceptualize ideas and put the pieces together.
"I feel as the oldest sibling, you can't vocally say your favorite, but I knew once Emaza was born that would be my best friend," Saiyr gushes about her younger Capricorn counterpart. When asked about what it's like to have her Taurus-born sister as a built-in bestie, Emaza responded, "Life is easier having a built-in best friend. You don't have to put them through trials and tests to prove loyalty. I know I can depend on Saiyr. Plus we live together so I don't have to wait to see her and chat it up."
"Life is easier having a built-in best friend. You don't have to put them through trials and tests to prove loyalty. I know I can depend on Saiyr."
For more of Ceraadi, follow them on Instagram @ceraadi.
Simone and Jade Kendle
As influencers, mothers and entrepreneurs, Jade and Simone Kendle have their hands full - so having a sister by your side is just what you need to handle the twists and turns of life. As CEO and advisor of Life is Content, a source of e-courses for content creation, Jade and Simone manage their business, friendship and sisterhood with grace, style and absolute boss-chick mode. "We treat business chats like any other professional obligation; shoot one another a meeting invite and correspond through our business emails. We are both super mindful of work-life balance, especially as sisters. You have to be hyper-aware of one another, especially when we are brainstorming or trying to troubleshoot a problem," Jade Kendle tells us.
"The biggest thing I appreciate about working with Simone is the amount of grace we give one another. I can literally sense when she's had a tough day and the business call we're having is being impacted by that," Jade explains about their creative process and conducting business. "It's the level of comfort and commitment that is so special and unique to how we do business together." However, when it comes to flipping the 'sister-switch', Simone admits that working beside one another can become complicated and pose some challenges. "It's super hard swapping from family mode to business mode, without some overlap," Simone Kendle, CMO of Cannection, chimes in.
Simone continues, "We struggled a bit initially because we were so close, we assumed things the other person would do or feel, without always communicating those assumptions. It became super apparent that we had to be very conscious of treating each other as business partners during business hours, and sisters outside of that - as much as we possibly could!" Though problems may have initially been present, Simone and Jade don't draw a line in the sand when it comes to dividing between their relationships as sisters and friends. "I think a sister is a friend you didn't have to search the world to find. If anything, I think it helps maintain a foundation even through our disagreements, you know I'll be here no matter what. That's the best kind of friend," Simone adds cheerfully.
"I think a sister is a friend you didn't have to search the world to find. If anything, I think it helps maintain a foundation even through our disagreements, you know I'll be here no matter what. That's the best kind of friend."
For more of Jade and Simone Kendle, follow them on Instagram @lipstickncurls and @simonekendle.
Monica and Juan Veloz
Los Angeles-based brother and sister creative duo Monica and Juan Veloz are a pair worth not only following on Instagram if you need a dope aesthetic to your feed, but a pair of siblings worth admiring for their open and honest relationship as business associates and best friends. "We share three different relationships. We are siblings, coworkers and roommates and we think it's important to know when to wear our hats accordingly," the Afro-Latina YouTuber shares with xoNecole. "So we never bring work into a heart-to-heart conversation or use it against each other."
When it comes to practicing effective communication between one another, Monica and Juan both agree that they never let their emotions get in the way. By taking accountability for their actions, they find that by doing so, their creative process becomes seamless and effortless. "My sister is a bit of a perfectionist, but I've learned to be patient and try to calm her down if she ever tends to panic. I've gotten pretty good at that," Monica's talented photographer brother jokes. "We resolve these obstacles by taking into consideration each other's suggestions and somehow, someway meeting in the middle."
Though they face great challenges together and may not always see eye-to-eye when it comes to sharing a vision, Monica and Juan bump heads about their passion for the high quality content they produce. "We are each other's hype man. We don't allow each other to speak negatively about one another," says Monica, "but we are extreme because the last thing we need is for either one of us to put out subpar work."
When asked about turning off the "brother/sister" switch, Monica acknowledges that the two find the beauty in their difference of opinions when operating as business partners. "We turn it off when we sit back and remember that we did move across the country to pursue these careers and we have no time to waste," she adds before boasting about the creative eye and talent of Juan. "I think it's important to incorporate my brother in everything I do because I value his honesty and his critical eye."
"We share three different relationships. We are siblings, coworkers and roommates and we think it's important to know when to wear our hats accordingly... We are each other's hype man. We don't allow each other to speak negatively about one another."
For more of Monica and Juan, follow them on Instagram @monicastylemuse and @jveloz.
Coco & Breezy
What's better than having one dope, super talented melanated queen with a keen sense for style and swag? Two! Corianna and Brianna Dotson, known to the world as style icons Coco & Breezy, are the epitome of fashion forward female power duo. Founded in 2009, Coco & Breezy have taken over the world of fashion and entertainment world for their work with the late singer Prince and libation brand Ciroc while taking over the music world as DJs. "Being a sibling and a twin is a whole other connection," explains Coco as she hands the mic over to Breezy, who adds that she knew that Coco has been her best friend since her moment of realization and cognizance at two years old.
"I had a sister, a twin and a best friend who can be weird with me, who could learn with me and be creative with me. I learned that from jump," gushes Breezy about their young budding friendship which would later develop into worldwide domination in the entertainment and fashion world.
"Ever since we were little kids, our parents saw how close we were and they kind of taught us about always having each other's backs," Coco says. "I think what really got us to be so close is growing up. In growing up in Minnesota where we didn't really fit in with the other kids, [it] forced us to be even more of best friends than just sisters because with us going to school and not really having a group of friends to hang out with or a group of friends to have lunch with, we would be forced to do that with each other."
On conducting business together, Breezy shares that their creative processes are indeed different and that it took a while to reach a point of understanding one another's methods. "When we first started the company, we were stuck at the hip. I didn't know what I was great at, Coco didn't know what she was great at," Breezy starts. She explains their personality differences, from her sister's motherly, "super on it" demeanor, a personality that perfectly aligns with her strategic marketing and business development efforts. Breezy, as head of design and product development, self-describes as free-spirited and creative.
"We have our own responsibilities where we can hold each other accountable, which makes us a team and we're very aware of that," she continues. "I know her strengths are my weaknesses, and visa versa. There's no ego that is involved and we both allow each other to hold down what we're responsible for as opposed to arguing about something that I know Coco is great at."
"I know her strengths are my weaknesses, and visa versa. There's no ego that is involved and we both allow each other to hold down what we're responsible for as opposed to arguing about something that I know Coco is great at."
For more of Coco & Breezy, follow them on Instagram @cocoandbreezy.
Symphani and Nydiah Soto
If you haven't seen them on your Instagram explore page, which I'm sure you have, you've likely seen these sisters on YouTube with a bomb makeup tutorial or SoundCloud dropping melodic bars. Though the Soto sisters are miles away from living with one another, they still manage to keep the Instagram followers wanting more and their relationship healthy. "Symphani lives in LA and I live in Florida, so we definitely spend enough time apart, but I try my hardest to go out there for holidays and breaks between school just to keep her company. Living by yourself can get lonely, super lonely," Nydiah Soto shares about the distance between her and Symphani.
Not only are they states and timezones away from one another, they are also separated by seven years, but their sisterhood allows them to bond on a level not hindered by age differences. "When Nydiah was around 15 or 16 [years old], that is when we really looked at each as more than sisters, but as best friends. We are seven years apart - my being 27 and her 19 - but it doesn't feel like it most days!" the I Am artist shares about her younger half. "She feels like the older sister sometimes. It's amazing to have a tight bond with someone and it's forever; she will never not be my sister."
When it comes to creating dope, shareable Instagram content for one another's channels, Nydiah and Symphani have the natural instinct to get sh*t done and put on their boss babe hats. "I feel like we both bring different perspectives to things; whether it's where to pose, how to pose, or what ideas we can do for YouTube," shares Next Management Model Nydiah. "It happens organically. I push her to not be discouraged and she pushes me to get up and create content on the daily."
Symphani concurs that when it comes down to it, as content creators, she and Nydiah have a fun, loving business relationship in which they can rightfully hold each other accountable and push one another to do their best. "Nydiah goes hard! I've seen her outstand me at some points and it's super encouraging," Symphani gloats about Nydiah. "I am not afraid to try things and Nydiah doesn't give up easily. She's super determined and I really admire that about her. She makes me feel like I can and should do anything, and I make sure I give the same in return. We are a team."
"I am not afraid to try things and Nydiah doesn't give up easily. She's super determined and I really admire that about her. She makes me feel like I can and should do anything, and I make sure I give the same in return. We are a team."
For more of Symphani and Nydiah Soto, follow them on Instagram @symphanisoto and @nydiahsoto.
Featured image via Life Is Content/Instagram
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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